A Feb. 7 Newsmax article by Andrew Henry repeats a discredited falsehood to claim that recently released jobless numbers have been "manipulated."
The same Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report that showed unemployment dropping to 8.3 percent showed total workforce participation — the number of people either working or looking for work — declining by 1.2 million people in one month.
Tyler Durden of Zerohedge.com writes: “It appears that the people not in the labor force exploded by an unprecedented record 1.2 million.”
In fact, as we pointed out the last time Newsmax did this, the Bureau of Labor Statistics adjusted its methodology in January to incorporate demographic data gathered in the 2010 census, causing that statistical anomaly. Time further explains:
The January unemployment report, I had been forewarned by BLS, was the first to be based on models using 2010 census figures. (All these numbers are guestimations based on surveys of smaller samples taken around the country). A big shift up or down in the unemployment rate, I thought, could be explained by the change in the overall population of the country, reflected in the census numbers.
But the census adjustments actually work against my theory and that of the Obama-detractors. The demographic adjustments had no effect on the unemployment rate, says Mary Bowler, the resident expert in these matters at the BLS. And when it comes to labor force estimates, the steep jump in the number of those not seeking work came entirely from the census adjustment, which added 1.25 million people to that group. If you take out the census adjustment, the labor force numbers stayed essentially the same, as reflected by the labor force participation rate of 63.7%. In other words, the spike in the number of people no longer looking for work is entirely the result of some people at the Labor Department adding numbers to their spread sheets rather than an actual observed shift anywhere in the real economy.
That explanation puts the lie to another assertion Henry made, quoting someone as claiming that "there has been no major change in how the rate is calculated in over a decade."
Henry also rather stupidly throws in this quote:
“If you hold the workforce participation rate constant over the past year, unemployment would be about 8.9 percent instead of 8.3 percent,” GOP economist Matt McDonald of Hamilton Place Strategies said Monday on CNBC’s Squawk Box. "So it is a weird number that is out there, and I think people have to be looking at that carefully.”
But constant workforce participation rates are not how unemployment rates are calculated; they are calculated using the participation rate for the month in question.
Henry's inclusion of this statement shows that Newsmax is more interested in a partisan attack on Obama than fairly reporting the news.